The decision to allow fair use of copyrighted material could have an impact on the WTS' attempts to use copyright laws to pull content that is critical of them.
It is ironic that this ruling was made in response to one of Prince's songs.
(this article was posted on exjwreddit)
Demand that mother remove home video from YouTube backfires
A music company’s demand that YouTube take down a 29-second home video of two children dancing to a song by Prince backfired Monday when a federal appeals court used the case to make it harder for copyright-holders to act against brief, non-commercial uses of their material.
Recording companies, motion picture studios and other copyright owners issue numerous takedown notices each day, targeting everything from home videos to campaign ads that include segments of songs or newscasts. When a copyright-holder tells a website like YouTube that one of its postings violates the holder’s exclusive rights to license the material, federal law requires that the posting be removed immediately.
But the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the copyright-holder must first consider whether such a video amounts to “fair use” of the work, making it eligible to be legally posted. Fair use includes journalistic accounts and criticism, educational uses for teaching or research, and brief, private postings that don’t damage the commercial market for the work.
The law “requires copyright-holders to consider fair use before sending a takedown notification,” and those that fail to do so can be held liable for damages, said Judge Richard Tallman in the 3-0 ruling, the first on the issue by any appeals court.
The court upheld a decision by a federal judge in San Jose allowing Stephanie Lenz, who posted the video of her children, to go to trial against Universal Music Corp., which was hired to enforce Prince’s copyrights. The company’s takedown order kept Lenz’s video off YouTube for about six weeks in 2007.
The ruling “sends a strong message that copyright law does not authorize thoughtless censorship of lawful speech,” said Lenz’s lawyer, Corynne McSherry of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco.
“Congress gave copyright-holders extraordinary power to send an e-mail and take content offline,” McSherry said. “With that kind of power comes responsibility to consider whether the posting was authorized.”
Representatives of Universal Music Corp. could not be immediately reached for comment. Music and motion picture industry groups filed arguments supporting the company.